Gainesville high school football: P.K. Yonge gets first win of the season over Santa Fe

ALACHUA – This year’s edition of Santa Fe High School’s homecoming night was different.

Instead of being played under the Friday night lights, it was played Tuesday as Hurricane Ian continued to churn toward Florida, forcing high school football teams around the state to either push back their Week 6 matchups, or move them forward.

The Santa Fe Raiders (1-4) and P.K. Yonge Blue Wave (1-3) chose the latter, even though both programs had practiced just one day since their last game.

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“Honestly, it was the preparation that we needed,” P.K. Yonge head coach Kevin Doelling said. “We just got done playing two of the best teams in the state with Union County and Hawthorne in back-to-back weeks. The boys needed to just breathe.”

Despite the lack of preparation, it was the Blue Wave who held on to take home an unorthodox Tuesday night victory, beating the Raiders 15-0.

Here are takeaways.

Both teams look to establish the pass game early

P. K. Yonge quarterback Adrian Curtis (20) feels the pressure from Santa Fe's Ayden Slayton (24) during their game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 at Santa Fe High.
P. K. Yonge quarterback Adrian Curtis (20) feels the pressure from Santa Fe's Ayden Slayton (24) during their game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 at Santa Fe High.

The Blue Wave and Raiders’ offenses both came out slinging the ball around.

P.K. Yonge’s sophomore quarterback Adrian Curtis had 19 attempts on the night — which was one shy of his season high.

The Raiders didn’t make completions easy to come by as Curtis finished the night with just six.

However, when Curtis did connect, it was often for big gains. The sophomore slinger finished the night with a season-high 199 passing yards, including a 31-yard passing touchdown to junior Thomas Young III to cap off the Blue Wave’s opening drive.

“I think the world of my young quarterback,” Doelling said. “He came over to me three or four times today really concerned about his effort, but I told him, ‘Just continue to get better and learn. You’re fine.’.”

Meanwhile, Santa Fe also looked to attack through the air and used two different arms to do so. The Raiders’ pair of quarterbacks in junior James Smith and freshman Erik Hockman combined for 40 passing attempts, connecting on 14 of them.

"We got James, who is a good quarterback and Erik, who is a ninth-grader ... he's probably the quarterback of our future," Santa Fe head coach Joe Szymanski said. "So we're getting him some reps in each game."

Blue Wave defense makes the red zone a dead zone

Moving the ball wasn’t the problem for Santa Fe’s offense.

The Raiders drove their way inside the Blue Wave’s 25-yard line four times in Tuesday’s contest, but still came away empty-handed.

“It’s just not having the practice reps this week against the team we were playing,” Szymanski said. “With a young team, it’s kinda hard. If we had a full week of practice, we could’ve had a little better scheming going into it. But we really didn’t have time.”

While Santa Fe’s youth is certainly a factor in the Raiders’ offensive struggles, credit is due to the Blue Wave defense, which came into the matchup giving up and average of more than 49 points per game.

“That’s the grittiest performance I’ve seen from our defense,” Doelling said. “Now I owe them doughnuts on Sunday. It is an honor to head to Dunkin’ Donuts on Sunday for the job they did.”

P.K. Yonge hopes to return to normal schedule soon

The unorthodox is set to continue for the Blue Wave as it once again will have just one day of practice between games ... hopefully.

With Hurricane Ian causing Week 6 games around the state to be postponed, the FHSAA granted football programs permission to practice on Sunday, assuming it’s safe to do so.

After having to reschedule its matchup with Mount Dora Christian Academy, which was rained out back on Sept. 9, P.K. Yonge will line up for its fifth game of the season on Monday night in Mount Dora.

“I don’t even know what normal is right now,” Doelling said. “After this next game, we’ll have played a game on a Friday, a Saturday, a Monday and a Tuesday. There’s nothing normal about this year and these boys have accepted that.”

Meanwhile, Santa Fe will have a while to regroup before it hosts Suwannee on Oct. 7.

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: High school football: P.K. Yonge's defense blanks Santa Fe 15-0